CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Judicial independence is critical to protecting press freedom in Africa

In this opinion piece, Anneke Meerkotter, Litigation Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), discusses a recent High Court of Lesotho (sitting as a Constitutional Court) judgment which declared the offence of criminal defamation unconstitutional. She takes the opportunity to also reflect more generally on the extent to which judiciaries have created the space for constitutional jurisprudence to be exercised in a manner that facilitates social transformation. 

 

Dismissal of cases that raise issues of breach of fundamental rights and freedoms at an interlocutory stage

The ex parte Applicants were elected Members of the National Assembly representing various constituencies and were all members of the Jubilee Party having been elected on its ticket. The Applicants were nominated and consequently approved by the House as members of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee, Agriculture and Livestock Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Committee and Parliamentary Broadcasting and Library Committee in the National Assembly.

Republic v Benjamin Jomo Washiali, Majority Chief Whip, National Assembly & 4 others Ex-parte Alfred Kiptoo Keter & 3 others [2018] eKLR
High Court at Nairobi
Miscellaneous Civil Cause No. 706 Of 2017
G V Odunga,J
February 26, 2018.
Reported by Kakai Toili

 

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Ugandan Judge Sues Attorney-General

IN the struggle to ensure judicial independence judges sometimes have to take extraordinary steps. Over the last six months however none can have been more unusual than the litigation by Ugandan high court judge Joseph Murangira, which saw the judge suing Uganda’s attorney-general.

The case, heard in the country’s constitutional court, came out of a settlement order finalized by the judge. One of the parties to that dispute was a government department, and when the agreed amount was due to be paid, the Public Accounts Committee of parliament ordered the judge to appear before it and justify his decision. When he refused to do so the parliamentary committee made a report against him that was adopted by parliament, “purporting to veto” his decision in the high court.

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